Understanding Water

The Lifeblood of Our Planet

Water, often dubbed the “elixir of life,” holds immeasurable significance in our world. Every droplet tells a tale, from the vastness of our oceans to the singular tear that rolls down a cheek. But what makes water so crucial, and why is it at the centre of global discussions today?

Understanding Water

Water, often dubbed the “elixir of life,” holds immeasurable significance in our world. Every droplet tells a tale, from the vastness of our oceans to the singular tear that rolls down a cheek. But what makes water so crucial, and why is it at the centre of global discussions today?

Water's Global Role

Societies have been built on the banks of rivers and coastlines, with civilizations flourishing thanks to the fertile lands that water nourishes. Agriculture, industry, and even our daily household chores would be unthinkable without it. Beyond being a mere resource, water has cultural, spiritual, and economic significance across various communities worldwide. It’s a symbol of purity in rituals, a route for global trade, and often a reflection of a region’s prosperity or distress.

The Threat of Human Activity

Human actions, from unchecked pollution to rampant over-extraction, have jeopardized our water sources, contaminating rivers and depleting freshwater reserves. Resulting erratic climate patterns cause unforeseen droughts and floods, displacing communities and pushing numerous species to the brink. Nonetheless, by valuing and understanding water’s importance, and uniting in collective action, we can pave the way to a sustainable future.

  • Scarcity

    While 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, a mere 0.025% of the globe's total water is readily available freshwater. Alarmingly, nearly 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safely managed drinking water services. By 2025, half of the global population is projected to live in water-stressed areas. (Source: World Health Organization)

  • Pollution

    Over 80% of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal. This wastewater often carries harmful contaminants, affecting marine ecosystems and human health. (source: United Nations)

  • Over-extraction

    Groundwater sources, like aquifers, are depleting at an alarming rate. In places like India, the water table is dropping at a rate of about 0.3 meters per year, leading to severe agricultural and potable water shortages. (source: World Bank)

  • Ecosystems at Risk

    Around 90% of all natural wetlands have disappeared since 1700 due to human activities, leading to a loss of habitat for many species and reducing the natural filtration and storage of water. (source: Ramsar Convention)

  • Ocean Dead Zones

    Areas in the oceans with very low oxygen, known as dead zones, have increased fourfold since 1950 due to nutrient pollution from human activities. These zones, where most marine life can't survive, now cover areas larger than the United Kingdom. (source: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center)

  • Climate Change

    As a result of global warming, which is significantly driven by human activity, glacier melt rates in regions like the Himalayas have doubled since the turn of the century. This has dire implications for freshwater supplies for billions of people. (source: Science Advances journal)

  • Sanitation Issues

    About 4.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, leading to contamination of freshwater sources and posing significant health risks. (source: World Health Organization)

  • Botted Water Impact

    Approximately 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the globe, and a significant percentage of these end up in our oceans, adding to the already severe plastic pollution crisis. (source: The Guardian)

  • Infastructure Decay

    In the United States alone, an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost every day due to leaking pipes, a testament to the crumbling water infrastructure. (source: American Society of Civil Engineers)

  • Agricultural Impact

    Agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. However, inefficient practices mean that much of this water is wasted or misused, exacerbating water scarcity challenges. (source: Food and Agriculture Organization)

Everyday Activities & Their Consumption

In North America, particularly in the United States, the average person’s daily water use is significantly higher than in many other parts of the world. The average American uses approximately 300 – 380 litres (80-100 gallons) of water per day.

Water Conservation & Harvesting Guide

The journey towards water security starts at home. By implementing simple changes and adopting sustainable practices, not only can we significantly reduce our water footprint, but we can also create a haven of water security for ourselves. This resilience ensures that even in the face of external challenges—be it shortages, droughts, contamination, or other risks—we remain equipped and empowered to safeguard our water needs. Moreover, as each household moves towards water autonomy, it inherently strengthens security for neighbours and the broader community, weaving a tapestry of resilience that protects all.

Water Conservation Techniques To Reduce Your Water Consumption

In our journey towards sustainability and security, water conservation stands as a cornerstone. Just as with other resources, the first stride towards achieving water independence is reducing consumption. This begins with a reflective look at our daily water habits, challenging ourselves with the question: ‘Can we accomplish this in a more water-efficient manner?’

Mindful Daily Habits

Take short showers

Fact: Traditional showerheads can use anywhere between 2.5 to 5 gallons of water per minute. Reducing a 10-minute shower to 5 minutes can save 12.5 to 25 gallons of water each time.

Impact: If an individual cuts their shower time by 5 minutes daily, they could save between 4,562.5 to 9,125 gallons of water annually. That’s enough to fill a small backyard swimming pool!

Turn of the tap when brushing teeth or scrubbing dishes

Fact: A faucet left open can dispense 2 to 2.5 gallons of water per minute.

Impact: If you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and turn off the tap while brushing, you could save up to 10 gallons of water daily. That’s a staggering 3,650 gallons saved annually, just from this small act.

Tip: Be mindful of not letting the faucet run unnecessarily when washing hands, rinsing vegetables, or during other routine tasks.

Only run washing machines and dishwashers with full loads

Fact: An average washing machine uses about 20 gallons of water per cycle, while a modern dishwasher uses approximately 4.5 to 6 gallons per cycle.

Impact: By ensuring that you run full loads, you can save multiple unnecessary cycles per week. For a family running 3 extra half-loads of laundry and 4 half-loads of dishes weekly, this could mean a saving of up to 1,872 gallons of water annually.

Rainwater Harvest

Irrespective of your locale’s rainfall frequency, every droplet that lands on your property is an invaluable asset. Engaging with rainwater harvesting isn’t just about water conservation; it’s a pivotal step towards sustainable living. By capturing and utilizing this precious resource, you’re also demonstrating a profound appreciation for one of life’s essential elements. While systems may vary based on individual needs and water availability, the fundamental components remain consistent.

Greywater Systems

Recapturing water from baths, sinks, and washing machines for tasks like flushing toilets or irrigating gardens can make a big difference in household water consumption. Andrew Millison is a brilliant permaculture instructor gives a great explanation of wastewater harvesting (click on the image on the left.) You can learn more about how to create a greywater reuse system in your home in the link below.

Dew and Fog Collection

While more common in areas with dense fog or dew, specialized nets or collection systems can be used to capture and condense these water sources. Click on the button below to find further information on fog collection here, Aqualonis is also a great informational resource on Fog Harvesting.

Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG)

Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) is a technology that captures and converts atmospheric moisture into potable water. This process employs techniques such as cooling condensation or desiccant absorption to extract water vapor from the air. AWG devices offer a sustainable freshwater source, particularly beneficial in areas with limited access to clean water. As water scarcity intensifies globally, AWG technology presents an innovative solution by harnessing the vast reservoir of atmospheric moisture. For a more detailed insight into this technology, refer to Aquaria’s explanation of their system.

Swales and Berms

Commonly utilized in permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and landscaping projects, swales and berms are shallow ditches or raised banks constructed to direct, capture, and infiltrate runoff water. Their design maximizes water retention, aids in preventing erosion, and promotes groundwater recharge, making them essential in regions prone to drought or areas aiming to conserve water. When used in conjunction with other strategies, such as ponds, they form a cohesive system that enhances water efficiency.

Rain Gardens

These are planted depressions that are designed to absorb rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas.

Natural Pools & Ponds

Natural pools and ponds serve as both aesthetic and functional features in landscape design. Unlike conventional pools that use chemicals for purification, natural pools leverage aquatic plants to filter and clean the water. This creates a balanced aquatic ecosystem where the water remains clear and safe for swimming without relying on harmful substances.

Ponds, on the other hand, can be both decorative and utilitarian. While they add beauty and biodiversity to gardens by attracting wildlife, they also act as reservoirs for rainwater collection. Strategically placed, ponds can capture runoff from roofs, paths, and driveways, slowly releasing it into the ground and reducing the strain on stormwater systems.

Additionally, the incorporation of both pools and ponds in landscaping increases the local humidity, aids in temperature moderation, and contributes to a more balanced and sustainable garden ecosystem. Integrating these elements not only offers recreational benefits but also plays a crucial role in comprehensive water management and conservation strategies.

Aquascape is a company leading in natural ponds and pools. They have all the equipment and guides if you want to pursue the DIY route or to find a professional to hire.